How can a wearable speech tracker change the life of someone who stutters?

A number of people who stutter from a range of backgrounds and different ages spoke to us about how they imagined a speech tracker could assist them in everyday situations. In this blog post we discuss some of these uses. Also, you can watch the interview here.

“I was contemplating getting a tattoo on my wrist that said ‘slow’” - Harry Browning, Incoming Investment Analyst

Communication is a complex process. Stuttering often feels like a loss of control and means we sometimes speak quicker than we would like, or breathe in ways that can make us more uncomfortable. It can be hard to be mindful of these processes and a little help can go a long way. 

“It would also make me more conscious, more mindful of how I was speaking” - Tom Wheeler, Fine Art Graduate at UCL

Currently, people who stutter must rely on their own abilities to manage and control any difficulties that can come from their dysfluency. A speech tracker can help to provide objective and discreet assistance, taking away some of the need for individuals to monitor their own speech behaviours. Better awareness of breathing patterns and speaking speed can allow a greater level of control, resulting in less struggle and more comfortable interactions.

“Some people who stutter are so severe that without some technique it is really hard for them to communicate” - Norbert Lieckfeldt, Corporate Government Manager at NHS

People stutter in different ways and to differing degrees. For people whose stutter is more severe, a speech tracker can assist the learning and use of speech fluency techniques that aid social interaction. We believe that communication is a fundamental right and that people who struggle with this should be supported in a number of ways; a speech tracker is one way to do so. 

“You naturally slip up, but being able to outsource that job is a really useful feature and should massively improve day-to-day life of stutterers” - Harry Browning

A speech tracker can alert you of unhelpful breathing or speaking patterns. This can take the pressure off individuals to constantly manage their own speech and breathing. For those that do not want to incorporate speech techniques into their daily interactions, a speech tracker can also help people reduce struggle behaviours and allow them to stutter more fluently. Blocks and hesitations are often accompanied by tension in the jaw, neck or shoulders. Objective physical feedback, such as a gentle vibration, can help remind people to take a step back, use a technique to manage physical tension, and not push through blocks. 

“There is actually nothing out there at the moment that gives you any insight” - Norbert Lieckfeldt

Another essential way to improve support for people who stutter is through scientific research. A speech tracker can potentially collect important data regarding the practical transfer of speech techniques to the daily lives of people who stutter. Data of this kind can not only power future research, but also provide speech and language therapists with important information regarding their clients behaviour outside of the clinical setting. 

“It’s always really hard to transfer what you’ve learnt in the clinic to the outside world” - Norbert Lieckfeldt

A speech tracker acts as a bridge between the speech therapy context and the broader world in which we have to communicate. Therefore, speech therapists can benefit from the degree of objective insight available to them, while people who stutter can receive a helping hand in applying speech therapy techniques outside of the clinical context. When used in conjunction with traditional therapy, a speech tracker could become a powerful tool and help generate meaningful change in communicative behaviours.

“It is so nice to see time being allocated towards it and actual resources being put behind it, there is much more awareness around stuttering now” - Selin Tatar, Modern Languages & Translation BA and MA graduate at UCL

The development of a speech tracker is itself a step forward in acknowledging stuttering. The various stages behind a project of this size means that stuttering has been discussed in detail with a wide-range of people, with very little previous knowledge. These people are now much more aware of what dysfluency entails on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, the design and production of wearable tech for people who stutter reflects a wider trend amongst the community around the world. Stuttering voices are being heard like never before and we are proud to be a part of this movement. Our mission is to amplify these voices by providing practical solutions that improve understanding and empower individuals. 


Ronan Miller, PhD Specific Didactics - Stuttering and Foreign Language Learning